building sustainable communities

November 30th, 2016

YouTube video: Building Sustainable Communities

As our towns and cities grow, we need to prepare for the future. Long term planning means that everything we need is all in the right place ahead of time. That means all the major necessities: transportation, utilities, community services and more.

In York Region, we know our population is continuing to grow – by 64% by 2031. Employment is also expected to increase by a whopping 59%, and all this will mean more demands on our roads in general [50% more demand in the morning peak], and especially an increased need for fast, convenient transit.

That’s why rapid transit systems are part of the plans in York Region. Bus Rapid Transit systems are supplying current and future demand with Viva rapidways that offer time savings. On the Highway 7 rapidway in Richmond Hill and Markham, travel times are 42% faster than in mixed traffic.

These improvements to our infrastructure are appreciated. On Davis Drive in Newmarket – the newest rapidway to open – YRT/Viva ridership increased by 39% between February 2016 and February 2015. According to a 2015 survey, 80% of residents living near an opened rapidway believe the project added value to their community.

From Markham to Newmarket to Richmond Hill and Vaughan, it’s about maintaining vibrant, welcoming communities that are prepared for growth and sustainable for many years to come.

 

when urbanism comes to a small city, the impact is big

November 25th, 2016

when urbanism comes to a small city, the impact is big

When urban projects that bring complete streets happen in a big city, they have an impact. A recent big-city example is Simcoe Street in Toronto, which increased pedestrian space and added bike lanes. But to be honest, these projects don’t create the same splash as they do in small cities. In fact, they can get a bit lost in amongst the city as a whole.

When urbanism comes to small or even medium-sized cities, the effect can be huge – even transformative – creating  a new downtown. And the vivaNext and subway project in Vaughan is doing just that.

A recent article, called “New Urbanism’s impact on small-to-midsize cities”, from the American journal Public Square, lays out several remarkable examples of the effects of complete streets’ on smaller centres.

The article describes the positive impacts urban projects have had on a selection of small U.S. cities:

  • Positive impacts in Birmingham, Michigan. Since urbanism came to Birmingham the city now attracts more shoppers and visitors. In fact, in the wake of the urbanism projects, Birmingham has changed its motto to “a walkable community”.
  • Revitalized Albuquerque, New Mexico. Urban changes to land use in Albuquerque have created “a lively mix of entertainment, shopping, office and houses in place of cheap surface parking and underused buildings.”
  • Formerly forlorn Providence, Rhode Island. Before the urbanism project in Providence, the city had a deserted, empty yet heritage-rich downtown. Urbanism has brought the area back to life “with a vengeance”.

Closer to home, the Highway 7 East vivaNext project in Markham has transformed the street from being a highway with gravel shoulders, to being an attractive place to walk, cycle, drive and shop with convenient rapid transit Viva buses along the route. The project has helped set the stage for new development in Markham, such as York University’s new campus.

In Vaughan, people are starting to flock to the new urbanized area known as Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, which is seeing new urban development in Vaughan and includes design elements such as pedestrian-friendly boulevards, wider sidewalks, attractive landscaping, bicycle lanes, upcoming bus rapid transit and the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE]. New developments are coming to this new mobility hub, transforming the area.

Urbanism in York Region is part of the exciting movement for smaller cities to grow right, serving the Region’s communities for generations to come.

For more information on the vivaNext projects, be sure to sign up for email updates and follow us on Twitter. Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com.

 

working day and night

November 16th, 2016

Those living and working in York Region know firsthand about dealing with construction. During prime construction season, you typically see worksites on a number of Regional roads. We need these road improvements to ensure our fast-growing communities are connected by a strong transportation system.

So how do we get these projects done when people still need to use the roads?

VivaNext rapid transit projects are carefully planned to manage construction and maintain traffic flow. There is a balance on every construction project between the need to get work done on schedule, the need to keep traffic moving, and the construction disruption to adjacent homes and businesses.

On occasion, night work is scheduled on busy roads such as Highway 7 or Yonge Street to avoid traffic congestion during the higher-traffic daytime hours. For example, on Yonge Street between Weldrick Road and 16th Avenue, there is up to eight times more traffic during the day than during the overnight hours.

We understand that sitting in traffic can make commutes longer. On the other hand, when work is done at night we know the noise and lights can make it difficult for those living nearby. The project still needs to be completed, so we move forward, trying to strike a balance – with over 99% of the four-year project being done during the day. Work is limited during peak traffic times, and crews work diligently to complete overnight work quickly so that it’s over as soon as possible.

We know that a good night’s sleep is important, and our crews try to minimize the amount of noise and light they create while they’re working overnight.

Day or night, it helps to know what’s coming so you can plan around it. You can sign up for email notices at vivanext.com/subscribe. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

look way up there!

November 10th, 2016

look way up there!

The installation of hydro poles on Yonge in Newmarket is a major milestone for the bus rapidway project. By the end of construction, about 100 new hydro poles, most of which stand at 100 feet tall, will line the corridor from Savage Road/Sawmill Valley Drive to Davis Drive. Installing these gigantic poles is no small feat, because each one weighs 20,000 pounds. To do this work safely, traffic has to be stopped for a short period of time in all directions while each pole is hoisted high in the air, rotated and then carefully lowered onto concrete foundations.

The pole design has a grey concrete finish and due to their foundations, do not require supportive wires. This helps to reduce the visual impact and contribute to an inviting streetscape once the final boulevards and sidewalks are all in place.

Our latest video goes behind the scenes and gives you an up close look at the hydro pole action. Check it out, we’re sure you’ll agree, there’s nothing small about this part of the Yonge project.

We love hearing from you! So if you have any questions or comments, let us know at contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up to date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

saying hello to a brand-new water main on Bathurst & Centre

November 3rd, 2016

watermain pipes centre street

In Thornhill, the residents and businesses in and around Bathurst & Centre Streets are getting a new, modern water main. This will not only help to prepare the area for future growth, it’s also simply time to upgrade the old pipes in order to avoid future water main breaks and floods!

Here’s a quick look at how it’s being done:

  • It’s already happening. On Bathurst Street, Installation of the water main is well under way, from Centre to the Highway 7 connector ramp. And this month crews are starting up construction of this vital utility on Centre Street, from New Westminster Drive to Dufferin Street.
  • Two techniques. The Bathurst section is being done mostly with the directional drilling technique, which reduces disruption to a narrower street. On Centre, since there’s more space beside the road on the south side, we’re combining open cut excavation and directional drilling.
  • Taking extra care. When crews install the new pipes beside the current ones, it takes extra care and time. Once the pipes and chambers are in, crews will follow the cleaning and testing processes, all to meet very strict standards.
  • Connecting to the new system. When the water main upgrade is ready to connect, residents and businesses will hear from us in advance. Individual addresses are simpler to connect, but businesses and multi-unit residential buildings take longer. Again, we will keep you well informed on what to expect and when.
  • Everything is important. As with all vivaNext construction, we’re always working to balance priorities. The biggest is to keep the water on for everyone during the work. Another is to minimize disruption as much as possible.

This key piece of new infrastructure will last for generations to come, and leave a lasting legacy for the Bathurst & Centre community. Check out this utility video to find out more.

For more information on ongoing work be sure to sign up for email updates, and follow us on Twitter. Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com.

 

 

fall = fun!

October 26th, 2016

With cool weather and colourful leaves surrounding us, fall is the perfect time to get outside and be active. From perusing pumpkin patches to checking out Halloween decorations, there’s no shortage of things to do. If you find yourself looking for somewhere to go, maybe we can help…

Newmarket: Strawberry Creek Farms

Most of the local farmers’ markets and family fun farms are open until the end of October, so this weekend and the PA Day on Friday may be your last chance to get a taste of farm life. On Davis Drive just east of Highway 404, Strawberry Creek Farms has become a staple for outdoor family fun.  To get there on transit, transfer from Viva Yellow to Durham Region Transit route 960 at the Highway 404 and Davis Drive park and ride. Featuring wagon rides, pumpkin cannons and corn mazes, Strawberry Creek Farms is not to be missed.

Markham: Main Street Markham Trick or Treat

This Saturday, October 29, head out to the Main Street Markham Trick or Treat [see map] for some spooky family fun. Viva Purple will get you to the foot of this spooky street via Highway 7. From noon to 4pm, join local business owners they hand out tricks and treats to all who are willing to put on their Halloween best.

The sun is setting earlier, so if you’re walking, or taking your kids trick or treating, be sure to wear bright colours and reflective clothing. And if you’re driving, remember to stay alert and watch out for our little ghosts and gremlins. Happy fall everyone!

the ballet of building the VMC canopy

October 21st, 2016

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre – Spadina Subway Station

The giant sections of structural steel canopy were installed this fall in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] area – right in the middle of Highway 7 West – and it was a ballet of precision.

Having a large structure like this arise in the centre of a roadway is an incredibly unique construction event.

That’s why we made sure we were out on the corridor watching and recording the action to share with all of you.

The largest section lifted was 25,000 lbs – over 11,300 kg! You can read more about this new Vivastation, and check out the video to see how this feat was done.

 

Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

designing for the future

October 20th, 2016

Who can remember? Not so long ago Highway 7 in Markham and Richmond Hill was a suburban highway: a few isolated developments, lots of parking lots and open fields, but no sidewalks, no plantings, no bike lanes–and certainly no dedicated rapid transit bus lanes. Just look at it now!

In only a few years from start to finish, construction begins and is completed on each of the rapidway projects. In the world of infrastructure renewal, vivaNext construction projects are known to be implemented very efficiently, and we’re doing everything we can to maintain that great reputation.

years of work are behind the design

What’s not so apparent to the public is the lengthy design process that happens long before construction starts. Design of the many engineering and architectural elements must take place stage by stage. Throughout, the designers need to balance staying true to the original vision with making it work in different conditions and geographical areas.

a variety of disciplines at work

VivaNext uses a multi-disciplined design team including: engineers who specialize in civil, traffic, structural, geotechnical, electrical and transit systems; architects; environmental consultants; landscape architects, security experts and more.

many stakeholders weigh in

At each stage, different options and features are reviewed, adjusted and improved with input from municipal staff, utility companies, local conservation authorities, property owners and others. Depending on the location of the project, specific design issues are addressed in conjunction with the owners of adjacent infrastructure including GO Transit, 407 ETR, CN, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

the stages of each project

The process is not a fast one; the Environmental Assessment process, which established the conceptual design for vivaNext, was begun in 2002, and the whole process for any one segment from Preliminary Engineering to service start may take 6 or more years. Here’s an overview of the stages each of our projects go through, before shovels can hit the ground.

•    Environmental Assessment [EA]: The EA examines alternatives and identifies a preferred design. The vivaNext conceptual design shows the approach for individual segments like the number of rapidway and traffic lanes, boulevards and planting zones and the arrangement of stops and stations. The EA then identifies potential design impacts on the natural and built environment, traffic, noise, drainage, property, etc., and proposed strategies to avoid or mitigate and monitor them.

•    Preliminary Design: This stage takes design to approximately 30% completion and establishes the outlines of the project including its alignment and profile, what additional property is needed to build the project, development of major components like bridges or culverts for water crossings, entrances and intersections, utilities, and listing permits and approvals.

•    Detail Design: This stage fleshes out the preliminary design for all elements. For example, preliminary design may identify that a high retaining wall will be needed at a specific location; 60% design will show the kind of foundation needed and the wall’s general construction; 90% design will show the colour and design of the material to be used on the outside of the wall, and 100% will show all details and specifications required to construct the work.

•    Issued-for-Construction Drawings: These are the final design drawings to be used by the contractors, once all approvals are complete.

By the time vivaNext is complete, all our projects will share the original design vision, but their individual design will reflect local requirements and various conditions. Each segment is tailor-made to be functional, convenient and beautiful, with the primary goal of providing a rapid transit system for the future. Which is, and always has been, the ultimate vivaNext design objective.

celebrating the completion of the Davis Drive rapidway

October 12th, 2016

YouTube video: timelapse of Davis Drive

Last week, the Honourable Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation; Wayne Emmerson, Chairman and CEO, The Regional Municipality of York; Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO, Metrolinx; the Chairman of the YRRTC Board, Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of the City of Markham and Tony Van Bynen, Mayor of the Town of Newmarket, joined together to celebrate the transformation of Newmarket, with the completion of the bus rapid transit (BRT) rapidway project on Davis Drive.

The Davis Drive rapidway was opened for the new Viva service in November 2015, extending 2.7 kilometres from Yonge Street to Roxborough Road, with service continuing in mixed traffic another 2.3 kilometres with curbside stops and a turn-around at the new park and ride facility at Highway 404. This past spring, crews began work on the finishing touches such as planting trees and installing the last sections of sidewalk.

Rapid transit along Davis Drive promotes growth and development, and supports the priorities of the Town of Newmarket’s Strategic Plan, York Region’s Centres and Corridors plan, Metrolinx’s Regional Transportation Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Along with providing a convenient new travel option, the Davis Drive rapidway project helped transform Newmarket with updated utilities, new infrastructure such as a water main and the Keith Bridge, and wider boulevards. These improvements will help support the continued growth and development in Newmarket’s town centre.

The Davis Drive rapidway has been years in the making. We’ve captured the entire transformation on video. Through all the planning, design and construction there’s something special about knowing that you’ve contributed to the future growth and prosperity of entire neighbourhoods, towns and regions by connecting people to the places they work, shop and play.

We would like to sincerely thank the community, businesses and residents that have supported the project from the outset, and endured the disruptions that come with long term construction. Your patience, understanding and feedback have been invaluable. Newmarket now has a rapid transit system we can all be proud of and enjoy for many years to come.

 

what’s happening this fall on Highway 7 West and Bathurst & Centre

October 5th, 2016

After a summer of paving on Highway 7 West, water main work on Bathurst, and a whole lot of finishing touches along the rapidway in Vaughan, there’s much more to come this fall.

Here’s what you can expect to see over the next couple of months:

the VMC area

If you’ve driven by the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] area on Highway 7 West between Edgeley Blvd. and Jane Street, you’ll have seen the sudden rise of the huge steel canopy that will become the BRT station, VMC Spadina-Subway Station.

This unique vivastation will be extra-long and provide total coverage, also it will connect the rapidway with the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension and an inter-regional bus station, SmartREIT Terminal-VMC. This fall, workers are continuing to install and weld the giant structure.

the CN Bridge

Crews are busy working on sidewalks on both the north and south side of Highway 7 this fall. In addition, water seal testing is pretty much complete.

bike lanes, bike boxes and crosswalks street printing

Over the past month, crews have been installing the striped crosswalk street printing at intersections on Highway 7 West.

And in the next few weeks, they will be painting lines for bicycle lanes and laying the bright green street bond on bike lanes on either side of intersections and bike boxes at key corners, between Edgeley/Interchange and Bowes/Baldwin. Bike boxes allow cyclists to avoid crossing three lanes of busy traffic to reach the left-turn lanes, and act as a safe, designated waiting area.

Construction on Highway 7 between Jane and Bowes/Baldwin will wrap up by the end of the year.

Highway 7 West in Woodbridge

This area is mostly seeing pre-construction activities this fall to prepare for road widening in the spring. These will include culvert work, median removals, tree removals, and temporary traffic pole installation.

Bathurst and Centre

Water main work is continuing on Bathurst Street this fall and will start up on Centre Street as well. In addition, temporary traffic signals have gone up at intersections on Bathurst will be installed on Centre this fall. In addition, crews will also soon be busy with utility relocations.

It’s always exciting to see progress. Thank you everyone for your patience as the rapidway projects proceed!

Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.